Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Skin Cancer Treatment

I recently found some skin cancer on my neck and face.
Read my previous posts to catch up:
First the one called Skin Cancer, and then read Skin Cancer Update
Some of the patches discovered were actinic keratosis, which is pre-cancerous.  In many cases, the ‘cure’ for skin cancer is to remove it, along with a margin of healthy tissue around it. Because we caught this so early, I had the option of a topical chemotherapy which kills rapidly dividing cells. 
I chose to do the chemo rather than have chunks taken out of my face every time we suspected a spot.
So I got some Imiquimod and began applying it to three suspicious areas on my face:
First, there was the spot on my temple, near the bottom of my sideburn.  This was where I had what looked like an age spot removed and sent to the lab.  It came back as actinic keratosis.  Surprisingly, I’ve been applying Imiquimod to it twice a day and have yet to see any reaction.  Maybe when they removed it to send it into the lab, they removed it all?
The second spot is the tip of my nose.  For years, I’d had a recurring patch of flakey dry skin that would peel off but always grow back.  I thought for sure this was skin cancer, so I’ve been applying imiquimod twice weekly for over two weeks now and have had absolutely no reaction.
The third spot was sort of  a surprise.  An afterthought, if you will.  When I was in the doctors office and we were planning our approach, I pointed out that there was a spot near my eyebrow that was a new, light brown patch.  So she quickly said i should try that spot too.
After One Week
As it turns out, this is where all the action is.  Here is what that spot looked like after one week of applications.  It turned from a barely noticeable light tan spot to a red, irritated patch. Notice on my cheekbone, there is a place where I nicked myself shaving.  Both ‘wounds’ look pretty similar.  Nothing that would make anyone look twice, but it is something.  Something is reacting. 
And then, after another week the rash was getting worse. In fact, by Friday, it was just about starting to ooze.  It was a moist wound.  The protocol is that I don’t apply the imiquimod on the weekends, so that gave the wound a chance to heal up again.
After Second Week
Now, I’m in the middle of the third and final week.  I just have today and tomorrow and then I’m done.  
My next step is to wait a week with no applications and then revisit the doctor.
I have to confess... I did something that Dr Mariwalla cautioned me against.  But since I was getting absolutely no response in those two areas, today, I decided not to apply imiqumod on them any more and to use these last two days to apply it to that new mole that showed up on my collar-line.  I actually don’t expect anything to come of it because it looks so much like a mole.  But I was curious.
The doctor told me that if I started applying too much of the imiquimod, that I could experience an unpleasant flu-like side effect.  But I feel that since I'm not putting on any more of the stuff, (I'm just doing it in a different spot) that I should be OK.

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